Today’s post comes from Kristi Montague, a vital part of the Love In Stereo team since day one. She designed our very first t-shirt project (for Haiti) and did the album art for My Heart Is In Haiti. Just a few months after the earthquake hit, she had the chance to go with a team to Port-au-Prince. Today she reflects.
One year ago, the earth shook.
Haiti, a country already struggling, was wrecked by the disaster and people across the globe hurt with them. I had been to Haiti before with my family and felt a close tie to the children at the Sonlight Children’s Home in Port-au-Prince. It was gut-wrenching to not know how they were. Immediately after the quake it was hard to get calls into or from Haiti. Several hours went by before we got the news that one of the teenagers at the home had been killed and also the news that Roberta, the mother/leader/rock of the home was stuck outside of the country without the children.
My heart was in Haiti. That’s where we got the name for the album. It was exactly how I felt and there was even the sense that people the world over felt the same way.
When the opportunity arose to go with a medical missions team just a few months later, I jumped at the chance.
Arriving in Haiti, I expected things to feel different. I was, however greeted with something unexpected: joy. The airport was not a somber place, but full of music, life and hope. With only a handful of days having passed since the devastation – it was as if life had carried on.
It wasn’t long though before we saw physical evidence of the earthquake.
It was difficult to see how much things had changed. It was shocking to see the rubble and additional trash (to what were already littered streets). The most difficult was the smell.
Tent cities had popped up all over and it was apparent that life had changed. The spirit of the people, however, had not changed. It was still there and so alive in the kids. There’s no way to spend time with them and not be affected.
As we held a medical clinic each day, we had the chance to meet and see these beautiful people face to face.
One of the most remarkable moments came when a small child with terrible vision had the chance to see our optometrist. He came in restless and loud, (as most any child would who’d been waiting in line all day). The vision contraption looked so weird in this primitive setting and looked even odder hooked to his little face, but the moment his sight came into focus he froze.
He looked at everything and everyone wide-eyed with his mouth open in absolute amazement. He was seeing the world for the first time.
Pain was everywhere. People came in with all sorts of ailments and problems – many of which required surgery. At the same time, kids continued to play games and many sat outside the gates nearby singing songs and laughing. Here I saw the importance of how stories and fun can help you cope in this difficult times. As this young girl is being worked on, several volunteers gathered around her to tell her a story and keep her smiling, amidst the pain.
Through it all – life continues. Haiti has been through the unthinkable. Even in recent months they’ve faced a hurricane and an outbreak of cholera. Here is video that aired on our local news of our friend Josh Wyatt (seen also in some of the above videos). Josh was in Haiti when the recent hurricane hit.
It’s going to take a lot of work and love to get them to a healthier state. There is a saying the Haitian people have that perfectly echoes everything Love In Stereo is about:
“Men Anpil, Chay Pa Lou.”
Translation: “Many hands (make) a lighter load.”
Kristi is a photographer and designer. See her amazing photo essay on Haiti at her blog here. Proceeds from our album My Heart Is In Haiti go to feeding the children and families at the Sonlight Nutrition Center in Port-au-Prince. Click here to help.
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